Mothers tend to have a dilemma between whether to feed their babies on cue or to have a breastfeeding schedule spaced out at regular intervals. Most mothers go for a schedule, while some go for an ‘on demand’ schedule. Meaning, they feed their babies when they’re hungry.
Once you’ve had your baby, your predictable lifestyle and clockwork schedules get out of hand. To get back to their schedules, parents try to set a feeding schedule for their babies too. Let us find out if this way of feeding is better or not.
Feeding on a schedule
Scheduled feeding is, more often than not, devised to fit in a parents’ timetable. It does not give any regard to the child’s appetite or immediate need. At times, it may so happen that your child goes on an empty stomach despite being hungry and at times you may overfeed them. This will lead to extremely erratic eating habits and an unhealthy sleeping pattern for your baby. While this method can have benefits when your baby is older, it is not recommended for newborns.
Feeding on demand/on cue
This method has been recommended to be the best way to feed your little one. Some books and the western culture may tell us otherwise.
Infants need to feed within a gap of 2 hours maximum in a 24 hour period. In spite of this statistic, watch your baby and not the clock. If you feel your baby is hungry, feed them, irrespective of the timing. Doing otherwise may lead to overfeeding or underfeeding.
Newborns eat a lot since their stomachs are tiny and breastmilk is digested quickly by them. There might be negative repercussions of setting a schedule to breastfeed your baby. They include less supply of breast milk and degradation in the quality of the milk.
Scheduling feeding sessions can also affect your baby’s weight and overall health.
This method may seem erratic to you in the beginning, and even cumbersome. But once three to four months have passed, you will realise that your baby has fallen into a schedule of their own. This schedule holds still for quite a period of time; although as your baby grows, there might be minor changes.
Breastfeeding on demand over a scheduled feeding
There are many reasons why you should feed your baby on demand than on the basis of a schedule. One of them being, your child’s IQ level. Research has proved that children who were fed on demand had a higher IQ level than the ones who were made to adhere to a particular schedule.
While it can be extremely strenuous for new parents to adjust and sync with their baby’s new eating as well as sleeping patterns, it is best to let them decide for themselves when they want to eat and sleep. Also, you do not have to set up a feeding schedule and follow it since your baby is your natural reminder alarm.
That being said, it is best to let things fall in their place rather than trying to control them.